Angelina Jolie’s ‘Africa’ – The White Conservationist’s Burden

Makokha

Recently, Angelina Jolie announced that as part of her efforts to raise awareness about wildlife endangerment, she would be directing Africa, a biopic on elephant poaching. The film will tell the story of Richard Leakey, the archaeologist who became an anti-poaching crusader in Kenya during the late ’80s. While I’m all for wildlife protection, I’m not particularly thrilled about Jolie’s latest cinematic venture. Here’s why.

Whenever westerners make “a film about Africa”, it’s never really a film about Africa. Western films on Africa typically stereotype African people and caricature African societies. In the case of Jolie’s Africa, I won’t be surprised if, apart from one or two resistant locals, all the other Kenyan characters in the film are portrayed as colluding “bad guys”: ivory poachers who slaughter the elephants; locals who protect their interests and threaten prying “outsiders”; and officials depicted as secretive, deceitful and domineering with regards…

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